As a buyer, you want to start the purchase process on a level field. Well, at least not with the deck stacked against you. You can and should say anything to your own agent; after all, she’s there to address your every concern and protect you. But the listing agent…that’s a whole ’nother story.
It’s not often that the listing agent gets to talk directly to the buyer; usually there’s a middle man—the buyer’s agent. So whenever a listing agent gets ear-to-ear (phone call) or face-to-face (open house) with a buyer, she will try to read him like a book. And what she hears can and will be used against him. Because the listing agent’s fiduciary duty is to get the best price and terms for the seller and anticipate any trouble that might come up and avoid it (or him or her).
Here are five remarks I have heard from potential buyers of my listings and several of my sellers:
- “So, tell me, what would the seller take for this quirky little house?” asked Mom who, with Dad, was touring open houses for Sonny who would be the recipient of “our cash down payment.”Me: “Quirky?” (I am supposed to emphasize the positive and DE-accentuate the negative.)Mom: “There’s no bedroom downstairs; the water heater is upstairs—it could flood, you know; and the roof, oh my god. This house has isssssssues.”Perhaps this was her strategy to get me to recommend that the seller take a low offer, because they did submit one. And my client did not accept it.
- “Joe would like to take a leap of faith and make this his new residence,” the buyer’s agent wrote in her cover letter to the seller. I wasn’t sure if that referred to Joe’s ability to qualify for financing or the surprises he was anticipating finding in the property. It did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
- “My son/daughter/friend wants me to inquire…” Calls that begin with that phrase cause me to weigh the three other things I should be doing at that moment against the impracticality of talking to someone whose son/daughter/friend did not deem the inquiry worthy of his own time. She lost. Reason prevailed, so I invited her to come to my open house where I would be captive captivated by her story about how deserving her son was of buying a home.
- “How much will you knock off the price if I have you represent me?”
- “If my house doesn’t sell…” In an escalating market. There is no reason that a house won’t sell other than the seller. Unless it’s in Detroit. Because it’s (almost) always about price.
It’s so important to be honest. And if your honesty results in not buying a particular home, or in not selling your own home, well, that’s a good thing. Because in real estate you live with the consequences.